Colchester Council bosses have insisted plans for the town’s new Cultural Quarter remain on track despite a date for the decision being pushed into the new year.

The official determination deadline for Alumno’s proposals, which features 340 student rooms, public space, an 87-bed Travelodge and a number of retail units, was set for the end of the month.

Colchester Council’s planning committee was set to discuss the plans at a meeting on November 22, however, the application is no longer on the agenda.

Tim Young, councillor responsible for culture and regeneration, said the November deadline was never set in stone and it was business as usual.

He added: “Negotiations are continuing between the developer and the council on the plans.

“There is nothing sinister in relation to this, the process is ongoing.”

The plans have drawn strong criticism from many individuals and organisations across the town, with some protestors labelling them “cultural slaughter”.

Concerns have been raised about the designs of the buildings, the construction methods and the speed at which the scheme has progressed.


Protestors gather at the site

Campaigners have called for the council to use the delay to have a serious rethink.

Dorian Kelly, one of the leading opponents, said the existing proposals would have “no social, cultural or economic value to the town other than a short term capital gain”.

He added: “This is a plan which is opposed by a record number of people including English Heritage, the police, the NHS and lots of well-respected town planning specialists, and is so demeaning of our Roman Wall, makes a mockery of the millions already spent by Greyfriars, Firstsite and the Curzon and, of course, by the council itself, trying to turn the area in a real cultural asset which can attract visitors and create real income.

“In the meantime the council must clean and clear their own mess they have left by serious neglect, and leave it looking at least tidy, so it can be used for markets and festivals, or indeed car parking.”

Another critic Alan Short said some campaigners were worried they wouldn’t be given a chance to respond to any amended proposals.

He added: “We want to have a statutory consolation period over any new plans.”

A council spokesman said residents would have ample time to respond to any changes in the plans.

A 13-week determination deadline can be pushed back with the agreement of the developer.

Conservative group leader Darius Laws announced the news on Twitter on Sunday.

He said the developer may have realised the "magnitude of concerns" from residents.

"My view remains the footprint for this scheme is too big and encroaches on Firstsite and wider public realm opportunities," Mr Laws added.

"I would like to see the extra time used to also include the council itself outlining its vision for the wider St Botolphs masterplan.

"What will happen to the open road building?

"How does Firstsite interact with the Minories and the new hotel?

"How also can we ensure school kids to play on the field outside Firstsite whilst giving public access to more of the Roman Wall?"

More on the Cultural Quarter:

In September, campaigners held a camp out protest at the site.

Some have said the scheme has been rushed.

Historic England has been critical of Alumno's proposals.